Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the first step?

It’s easy!  Just give us a call and tell us a little about you and your availability!  We’ll find a time that works well for your schedule and place you with the teacher that best fits you and your goals.  Then we’ll answer all your questions and show you around our beautiful & award-winning facility.  You’ll also receive your exclusive Higher Voice Studio binder and lesson materials, and a personal tour of all that Higher Voice Studio has to offer you!   

What happens at my first lesson?

The first lesson is where our teachers learn about your strengths, experience level, background, interests, musical health history, and personal goals.  It’s from here that an individual plan is developed to get you up and running as quickly as possible.  It’s very relaxed and very fun. 

What if I’m nervous?

Who isn’t nervous for their first lesson with a new teacher?  It doesn’t matter how experienced you are or how many lessons you’ve taken in the past. Singing or playing an instrument for someone new is exciting, but it’s also a little scary….or for some, a lot scary!  For some students, this is the first time they have sung or played in front of anyone before, ever.  But all students, no matter where they come from are welcomed with open arms, sensitivity, warmth, and humor.  You have come to us because you want help and we are all here to help you every and any way that we can.  No matter how nervous you are, we can guarantee that you will leave your first lesson feeling better and singing & playing better than you did when you walked in the door.

What should I bring?

Well, if you’re taking voice lessons, then the answer is You!  If you’re a piano student, we have not only top-of-the-line keyboards for our students to work on but also a couple of grand pianos as well. If you have a song that you’re working on, absolutely bring it.  If you have a whole binder full of sheet music that you sing or play, then bring that.  If you have a karaoke track that you’re working with, then throw that in too.  We also have TONS of sheet music, so you can certainly use what we have- musical theater, classical, pop, country.  Sing or play what you feel comfortable doing and whatever gives us the most accurate representation of you as a musician today.  That’s what we want to hear.  It’s our job to hear all the amazing things you’ll be able to do tomorrow.

How do you pick the best teacher for me?

Higher Voice Studio is a collection of music educators that are as unique in their musical backgrounds and expertise as the students that they teach.  Each teacher has their own strengths, vision, experiences, and areas of specialty, so depending on the student’s goals and availability there is a teacher at Higher Voice Studio that will be the perfect match.  All our voice teachers study with Hilerie Klein Rensi, so are extremely well trained and fluent in the Higher Voice Method®, while bringing their unique perspective to the process.  All of our instrumental instructors have also been hand-picked by Hilerie to provide the highest quality and supportive education for each of our students.  

You can also supplement your weekly lessons, by taking extra lessons with different teachers in Higher Voice Studio.  Have an open mic night coming up?  Take a piano lesson with Zach or Liz.  Preparing your PMEA music?  Take a lesson with Tiffany, Caitlin or Devan.  Preparing your audition for the school musical?  Take a lesson with Carmen, Matty or Carolyn.  Getting ready for your national tour?  Take a lesson with Hilerie.  Some of our students take lessons from two teachers simultaneously to work on different areas of their musical interests or just to get another set of ears.

We are all not only very supportive colleagues, but also good friends, and we offer all that we know to every student of Higher Voice Studio.

Where is my first lesson?

All lessons happen at Higher Voice Studio: 144 East Main Street, Carnegie, PA 15106

What if I want to study with Hilerie?

Hilerie focuses on professional singers and high school students that are working towards a career in music.  Her high school students compete in the National Association of Teachers of Singing Competition on a Chapter, Regional and National Level and are very busy preparing for college auditions and recitals their senior year.  Her studio is also comprised of vocal students that already have at least one college degree in voice and students of all ages who are performing professionally in the classical, rock, country, pop, and musical theater genres.  

If Caitlin, Devan, Carolyn, or Matty determine at the student’s first lesson consultation that they are best served by studying with Hilerie, then the student can move into her advanced studio.  In addition, all students in Higher Voice Studio have an opportunity to study with Hilerie when they are ready and a regular lesson spot becomes available.  Hilerie also oversees the development of all voice students in Higher Voice Studio and hosts many free masterclasses, so is able to develop a relationship with each and every singer here. 

If you are interested in taking an initial consultation with Higher Voice Studio Founder, Hilerie Klein Rensi, please email her at or call (412) 429-1000 

The beauty of Higher Voice Studio is that every teacher is an excellent choice.  The teachers have all been handpicked and trained by Hilerie, so all of them carry her stamp of approval.  They are each extraordinarily gifted in bringing out the best in every student which is why all of our students show such dramatic improvement and long-term success.  It is an honor to teach at Higher Voice Studio and one that every teacher here feels most appreciative to be a part of.

Are hour-long lessons available?

Yes, Caitlin, Tiffany, Carmen, Carolyn, Devan, Matty, Zach & Liz all teach hour lessons depending on their availability. Due to unusually high demand, there are only a limited amount of hour lessons that Hilerie, Higher Voice Studio’s founder, teaches per month.

What will we work on in voice lessons?

Whatever you want!  The beauty of private lessons is that we have no set lesson plan.  There is not an “at your first lesson you do this and at your second lesson you do that.”   We listen to you.  Do you have vocal areas that you want to improve?  Do you want to sing lower, higher, louder, easier, longer?  We can work on that!  I even had a student once who needed to learn how to sing while juggling!

Our job is to listen to your instrument.  There will be areas of technique that your voice will do naturally perfectly!  Even the most beginning student does certain things incredibly well!  That is our starting point.  From there we can explain how your body as an instrument works.  Sometimes it’s just one sentence and people have an “Ah, HA!” moment.  Sometimes it takes longer.

We’ve never taught the same lesson twice.  Each person will hear the information differently and it’s our job to explain it in a way that makes sense to you and in a way that you can quickly translate into your instrument.  Lessons are demanding, but they are FUN!  Singing is fun!  We promise that you will leave even your first lesson feeling better about how you make sound and with a greater understanding of this “magic” we call singing.

And guess what?  It’s not magic!!  Yes, it’s the only instrument that you can’t see, but it’s muscles and bone and cartilage and human structure.  If it’s hard to sing, then there is tension.  It’s not just a “bad voice day.”  When you begin to understand how the instrument works, it will take away all the “magic” of making great sounds.  You will make great sounds all the time!  Not just once in a while, when you wear your lucky shirt and when the planets are in alignment!

Our job is to give you the tools and teach you how to use them so that when you are “out there in the real world” and you start feeling strange, you can say “Wait a minute!  Hilerie and I worked on this!”  or “What did Carolyn say last week?” “Caitlin helped me with this!” or “THIS is what Devan was talking about!  Right, my larynx!  If I think THIS, then my larynx will stay down!  OH!  That feels SO MUCH BETTER!!!”

Can we work on music for school?  Sight Reading?

Of course!  Bring in your chorus music, your part in the school show, PMEA music, audition music, audition monologues, sight-reading, music theory homework….  We can help you with all of it.  We WANT to help you with all of it!  Learning how to carry your part in a chorus is a skill that all great musicians have.  Acting is just as important as singing well in performance.  Music theory and sight-reading are about learning our language!  The language of music!  You would never expect someone to read all of your books to you at school, so then why would you expect someone to teach you all of your music notes.

Learn how to read!  It’s really not as hard as you think it is.  AND it’s so much cheaper!!!  As a professional singer, you constantly have to learn music.  The teachers and coaches that teach student’s the notes to sing cost $175-250 an hour!!  Can you imagine how much it would cost to have your teachers teach you every note!  This is exactly why we teach our students how to read music. It’s truly the gift that keeps on giving!!!

Plus there is so much more to learn than just what notes to sing.  We learn HOW to sing the notes, meaning, phrasing, diction, and character development, to name a few.  And most importantly how to make it sound good!

What vocal styles do you teach?

None.  We teach no particular style.  We teach healthy singing because we know that if you can sing healthy, then you can sing whatever style you want!  Whether that is opera, classical, musical theater, pop, rock, country, jazz, R&B, or contemporary Christian is up to you!  We have sung them all and we can teach you how to also.

No matter what you sing, the way you sing it is all the same.  Healthily.  As singers, we sing because we love it.  How awful would it be if you had to stop because you hurt yourself!  We want you singing well into your 80s!!!  We want you to get through your show without feeling exhausted, and then we want you to be able to get up the next day and do it all over again.

As a trained opera singer, Hilerie has learned to sing over an entire orchestra for three hours at a time without a microphone, without hurting herself, and with her 90+-year-old grandparents in the back row of the theater still being able to hear her.  To do that, you have to sing right or you will hurt yourself.  That’s all there is to it.

How much are lessons?

The current rate for weekly voice lessons with Devan, Caitlin, Carmen, Tiffany, Carolyn, and Matty is $140 or $280 per month. Weekly piano lessons with Zach and Liz are $120 or $240 per month.  Rates are either for half-hour lessons or hour lessons.  

What is a masterclass?

The masterclasses are one of the best parts of taking lessons here, at Higher Voice Studio.  Everyone who studies with Hilerie, Tiffany, Carmen, Devan, Matty, Caitlin, Carolyn, Zach or Liz gets the unique opportunity to participate in free open classes with Hilerie.  Subjects include performing, technique, songwriting, audience connection, acting, musical expression, audio and video recording, body engagement, and all aspects that affect singers in the music world.

A lot of times, a singer will want to perform at school or through a local community theater, but won’t be given the chance, because they don’t have the experience singing in front of other people.  It’s a real catch 22.  You have to have experience performing to get experience performing. And you need experience performing to get the chance to perform.  Masterclasses at Higher Voice Studio are how we break the cycle.  They allow singers to explore their talents in a fun, safe, and supportive environment.   They give us all a chance to get to know everyone and where they are on their journey.  You will celebrate with other singers as they grow, and they will celebrate with you.  This is the community of Higher Voice Studio.

When is a good time to start taking lessons?

Now.  There is never a better time.  You will learn no matter your age and no matter your ability.  Hilerie started voice and piano very young, but not all do.  Hilerie’s youngest student was her son Nicholas who started at 5 and our oldest student is in her 70s.  A lot of voice teachers won’t take a student as young as 5 or 6, but Hilerie is SO grateful that her parents started her when they did.

Hilerie’s father, Niel, started music much later than she did.  After graduating from Stanford he went on to earn his Master’s Degree in Music Composition from UCLA.  He always said that he struggled as a composer because his first language was English.  This is one of the reasons why he wanted Hilerie’s first language to be music.   Hilerie was blessed with fantastic teachers who never pushed her to sound older than she was or louder than she could sing, and her early lessons really gave her a leg up on her peers, especially in middle school and high school.  Her mission is to provide the same opportunities for all young singers and instrumentalists.

Remember though: some famous singers didn’t start until their 20s and 30s… assuming you want to become a famous singer.  Maybe you just want to be able to sing in your car with your windows rolled down, instead of up.  Wouldn’t that be nice?!?!?

Why take lessons at Higher Voice Studio?

Because we know that teaching someone to sing isn’t just about training the instrument.  It’s about the singer.  It’s ALWAYS about the singer. Because even if you play guitar or piano, YOU are the most important part of the equation.  No matter what your goals are, you will only achieve them if you feel safe to do so.  If you are surrounded by teachers and fellow students who appreciate you as a person, who cheer with you, who support you, and who are with you through your journey, then (and only then) will you flourish.  Then and only then will that musical voice inside of you come out!  And that’s what Higher Voice Studio is all about…  We will show you how to get your voice to sing, how to get that piano to sing, how to get that guitar to sing! Because everyone wants to SING!!!!!